Livadhet e Gjarperit
Stani i Arif Kadris:
Contact: Florant 067 30 14 643 (Only Albanian), Elisa 068 36 26 118 (some English). email: elisa_metaliaj@hotmail .com. backup: email@example.com
Rates: 10€ per person BB, camping 2€
Capacity: up to 10 people, in 3 small rooms: 2 triples (double bed plus single), and 1 room with 4 single beds. Extra space can be made downstairs with mattresses. 1 outdoor (outhouse) Bathroom with shower.
Services: Meals available (with fresh dairy and meat!), 2 horses, guiding available, marked trails, transportation available up and down and a working farm with sheep, cows and goats. There is electricity, and even wifi with an Albanian sim card (the phone antennas are nearby). They keep a small stock of JourneytoValbona hiking maps for sale.
Nature Perks: Great for birding. Owls, Red-backed Shrike, and grouse can all be seen, as well as Golden Eagles (hunting the young Chamois).
Alert: Bathroom is a simple outhouse, shower is solar heated. Despite all the work they’ve done this is still a basic shepherd’s summer home, so don’t expect mod-cons. You’ll still need to work a wood stove, if you want to cook for yourself.
Notable: One of the most socially responsible families, being members of the Mountain Rescue Service, dues-paying members of local NGO TOKA and maintaining the local hiking trails on a volunteer basis.
Winter: You can stay in winter if you’re a nutty survivalist type. The family is down in Dragobi, but they’ll keep an eye on you, expect daily phone checks, and come up and rescue you (or just bring food) if you run into trouble.
Click HERE to book online!
Several years ago I was sitting in Arif Kadri’s new ‘stan’ (shepherd’s summer house), which at the time was just a one-room stone hut they built mostly “for fun” (since back then they only used the farm in May and September). I looked around and asked the obvious question: “Would you let tourists come and stay?” They offered to give me the key. Coupla years later, and they’ve actually expanded it with a small bedrooms and a bathroom, and a fireplace! And not only that but all the families of Gjarper have been the most enthusiastic about helping to mark, signpost and maintain the surrounding hiking trails, which makes them not only some of the best in Valbona, but makes them some of the best people. I’ve fallen into the habit of calling it “Heidi-land” because that’s what it most reminds me of. In 2015 I sent 5 French people up there, and met them on the road “That was exactly what we wanted!” they said “Some of the best days of our lives!” Apparently Rasim took them all over the mountain, to places you’d never find on your own . . . . Anyhow. This is Northern Albania at its very very best, and I highly recommend spending a night there. Or more! Bear in mind however, that this is very much a homestay, so be prepared to join in traditional life as it’s actually lived. We’re happy to arrange it for you, or you can call them directly: Florant 067 30 14 643 or Eliza Metaliaj 068 36 26 118 (I think Eliza speaks English). In any case, don’t forget to at least stop by Rilindja, to pick up your super handy map (with trail notes) of the hikes around Gjarper.
Stani i Mehmet Alis: Don’t forget there’s also the Stan of Mehmet Alis, just around the hillside. Which was the home until recently of Salum, one of the valley’s first young environmentalists. His family is happy to welcome guests, and especially caters to camping. A word to the wise, however: There was a little miscommunication last year, so make sure you have someone negotiate the prices, if you want to stay there.